Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
Feature | IRAS

A Talent for Taxation

Tax collector no more. Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is now “tax administrator and more”. In the same vein, IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholars Cherish Goh and Pang Jun Liang are simultaneously transforming the organisation and their careers in their journey with IRAS.

Cherish Goh, Manager, Enterprise Grants Management (EGM), is an IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholar with a Bachelor of Accountancy from the Singapore Management University. She administers enterprise disbursements, and oversees a team which manages anti-gaming and end-to-end audits relating to enterprise grants.

IRAS is most well-known for its role as the primary tax administrator of the government.

No organisation will remain relevant if it merely rests on its laurels, and IRAS is no different. IRAS also implements many tax-related programmes, including the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) framework and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Post-pandemic, the organisation has evolved to include becoming the designated Centre of Excellence to carry out end-to-end administration of government disbursements to enterprises.

These new duties mean that IRAS needs new talent to trail blaze its way into the future, especially in the foreseeable future where digital tax solutions and new disbursement needs will jump to the fore.

Cherish Goh, Manager, Enterprise Grants Management (EGM), is certainly up to the task, while fellow IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholar Pang Jun Liang is establishing his foundations at the NUS.

Opportunities in Tax

A Perfect Fit

Since young, Cherish knew what she wanted in a career. Her interest in math and numbers, and her passion for meaningful work, made IRAS the perfect fit for her.

Attracted by IRAS’ focus on people development and forward-thinking mentality, Cherish went on to apply for the IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholarship and was successful in securing a sponsorship for her studies in the Bachelor of Accountancy programme at the Singapore Management University.

The transition from theory to practical application was seamless, as the tax modules she learnt about in school gave her a better understanding and appreciation of our tax system.

Cherish Goh

Cherish Goh

Making New Waves

All that learning has come into good use, as only with understanding the foundations can one begin to reinvent the wheel.

From the get-go, Cherish had the opportunity to be rotated and exposed to different functions. Her role has evolved over the years and that’s what makes a career in IRAS interesting. She started off as a customer service rep handling Goods and Services Tax enquiries, before she was rotated to work on audit and policy work and was also involved in varied projects including Digitalising Stamp Duty. These projects broadened her exposure to the needs and structure of the organisation, preparing her to take on more challenging duties.

As part of IRAS’ designated role as Centre of Excellence for disbursements to enterprises, a new team Enterprise Grants Management (EGM) was set up and Cherish was heavily involved in the formulation and implementation of these disbursements. The team administers government disbursements such as the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) and the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) Scheme. In her current role, Cherish oversees a team which looks into anti-gaming and end-to-end audits relating to enterprise grants.

In her work in EGM, Cherish finds the meaning she sought in a career: “The grants that we disburse go on to support businesses, employees and in turn the wider economy. Our anti-gaming efforts play a critical role in safeguarding the country’s resources to ensure that grants are duly disbursed and egregious cases are taken to task.”

The work is challenging as the team has to crunch enormous volumes of data and develop a strategic understanding of issues in a short span of time. To overcome the challenge, Cherish highlights the importance of frank, open communications within her teams and above all, strong camaraderie to help one another whenever someone faces difficulties at work.

“IRAS has different experiences to offer and one can expect to be constantly challenged.“ Cherish Goh

An Example to Follow to the Future

So, it was with a smile on her face that Cherish appreciated the abundant opportunities at IRAS not to just work with colleagues from different divisions, but also those from other statutory boards and ministries.

“IRAS has different experiences to offer and one can expect to be constantly challenged,” she said.

“Be passionate about contributing and be ready to take on challenges. It is also important to stay grounded and humble so that we are able to empathise with taxpayers’ needs and make good policy decisions.”

Towards a Career in IRAS

Tax and Support Measures in Singapore

25-year-old Pang Jun Liang is one of those inspired by a good tax policy decision.

Having a personal interest in tax policies and how they stimulate the economy, he came across the Productivity and Innovation Credit+ scheme in Budget 2014 and was intrigued at the impact of these fiscal policies and their long-term productive potential.

Deeply intrigued to explore tax policies as a source of economic improvement, Jun Liang completed his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accountancy and is currently pursuing his Master’s in Public Policy at NUS under the IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholarship.

Pang Jun Liang

Pang Jun Liang

The Ins and Outs

The IRAS Scholarship has allowed Jun Liang to study in-depth about public policies and taxation.

A rewarding internship experience with the Investigation and Forensics Division at IRAS in the summer of 2019 also took him further into the fascinating world of tax. “The internship exposed me to the unique perspective of countering tax evasion. I picked up practical investigation skills, which cannot be taught through an academic setting,” he recalled.

“The most interesting aspect of the internship involved putting together the chronological flow of events based on piecemeal, and even contradictory evidence from different sources. I felt like a ‘detective’ on a crime show!”

He looks forward to working in IRAS upon graduation, where he can put this multi-layered understanding of a variegated field to good use serving the public’s tax needs.

“If I am given the opportunity to work on tax policies, I intend to integrate the policy analysis skills acquired from my Master in Public Policy programme with my tax, accounting and business knowledge for a nuanced perspective.”

“IRAS has a very supportive and cohesive work culture!” Pang Jun Liang

Collaborative Culture

He is also looking forward to working side by side with his colleagues upon graduation. “IRAS has a very supportive and cohesive work culture! I joined IRAS as an intern with no prior knowledge about investigation or audit work. However, the mentoring by approachable and supportive colleagues and supervisors greatly helped to ease the learning curve.”

wedding icon

Cherish met some of her best friends in IRAS and two of them became bridesmaids at her wedding!

That stands him – and any aspiring IRAS Scholar – in good stead as tax develops and changes with the times. Jun Liang enthused: “Tax is an exciting and rapidly changing field due to trends such as the BEPS framework, digital economy taxation, and very recently the global minimum corporate tax proposed by the United States.”

“Keep an open mind about what to expect!”